(20) Cincinnati at (17) Memphis
Time: 2 PM CST
Spread: MEM -9.5
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Memphis Tigers finished the season 11-1 with a 7-1 mark in conference play. It suffered a disappointing 28-30 loss to Temple, but it proceeded to close the season with six-straight wins following that game. It will host the visiting Cincinnati Bearcats as 9.5-point favorites at 2:30 PM (CST) Saturday on ABC. The over/under is set at 57.5 points according to college football oddsmakers at 5dimes.
Memphis was a very dominant offensive team this season. It ranked No. 23 in passing yards at 287.1 per game, while its rush attack was no slouch either, averaging 196.4 yards and ranking No. 34. The overall offense generated 41.5 while limiting opponents to 24.4 per game, good for a differential of +17.1 points.
The Tigers got a tremendous season from quarterback Brady White. White threw for 3,307 yards at 66.4 percent completions with 32 touchdowns and just eight picks. His passer rating was an amazing 177.7. White struggled while rushing, managing to lose 32 yards overall on his 46 attempts. But the backfield was sensational, headed by Kenneth Gainwell’s 1,381 yards on 204 attempts. Gainwell averaged 6.8 yards-per-carry and led the team with 12 rushing touchdowns. No. 2 running back Kylan Watkins saw just 62 carries for 325 yards while No.3 back Patrick Taylor Jr. was good for 262 yards on his 59 attempts. Between White’s passing and Gainwell’s rushes though, this is an offense with plenty of firepower.
Top receiver Damonte Coxie also had an amazing season as the lead receiver. He caught a team-best 59 passes for 979 yards and nine touchdowns. Antonio Gibson added 604 yards and seven touchdowns. The Tigers scored 32 passing touchdowns while averaging better than 15 yards-per-catch.
Kicker Riley Patterson is quite accurate. He finished 60 of 61 on PATs but knocked down 14 of 16 field goals with one of his two misses coming from beyond midfield. His long-kick was a 50-yarder, and he was 2 of 3 from beyond midfield. That is some strength.
Cincinnati has just two losses on the season, and a forgivable one, its Week 2 loss to the now-No. 1 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes. The other loss, however, came to its opponent in this title showdown on Saturday. It fell, 24-34 last week to the Tigers.
Cincy has a powerful rush offense that ranks No. 35 at 195.7 yards per game. It manages well under 200 via the passing game, but the team scores 31.9 per game while limiting opponents to just 21.1 per game, a point differential of +10.8.
The Bearcats’ top rusher is Michael Warren II. He has 1,061 yards on 217 carries and 12 of the team’s 23 rushing touchdowns. Desmond Ridder has 432 yards on 112 attempts, but just one touchdown as the No. 2 backfield option (in terms of carries). Gerrid Doaks leads the team in yards-per-carry at 5.4 and he has five touchdowns, as well.
Quarterback Desmond Ridder has been reasonably accurate and effective despite the Bearcats not relying so heavily on the passing game. He has thrown for 1,836 yards at a 56 percent clip with 17 TDs and just eight INTs. His passer rating is 129.1. Ridder’s top-three receivers have all topped 400 yards on the season. Ben Bryant stepped in at QB last week to throw 20 of 32 for 229 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.
Alec Pierce leads the team in receiving yardage (534), but tight end Josiah Deguara has been the star of the pass offense. He has a team-best 34 receptions for 470 yards while leading the team with seven touchdowns. Cincy has scored 18 touchdowns via the pass, and it averages 12.6 yards-per-attempt.
Kicker Sam Crosa has had his struggles. While perfect on PATs (43 of 43), he has missed five of his 17 field goal attempts, with all four of the five misses coming from within 40-yards. Kicking could prove vital in this game.